Image Comics is confusing. Most of us still associate Image Comics with early-90s Liefeld-ian cheese, but a lot has changed at Image since their “glory” days.
Over the past decade they’ve transformed themselves into a far more interesting company that publishes a strange mix of comics from new indie creators, legendary indie creators who’ve been around forever, major names from DC/Marvel who are doing their own thing on the side, and yes, even Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri and other 90s Image stalwarts with nothing better to do.
Each month Image’s release list runs the gamut from embarrassing 90s-style exploitation, to hard edged crime stories, to bloody horror, to earnest indie drama — in other words, it’s a complete mess. In can be hard to pick the gems out of such a wildly varied catalogue, and in the end most people don’t even bother trying, which is a shame because Image is actually publishing some very good stuff. Here are some series being published by Image right now that deserve your attention…
Note – As you may have gathered from the title of this article, The Walking Dead isn’t on this list. Why? Because it’s the one Image comic everyone actually reads. Plus it’s better in trade anyways.
The Bulletproof Coffin – Truly strange, but kinda great, The Bulletproof Coffin is the kind of stuff Grant Morrison used to write before he confused “just leaving half the plot out” with innovative storytelling.
So, let’s see if I can explain this series…a guy named Steve Newman is sent to clean up a dead man’s house and finds a treasure trove of old comics from obscure publisher Golden Nugget Publications. As Newman reads one of these comics, we’re treated to a 50s or 60s style comic-within-a-comic starring characters such as Coffin Fly, The Red Wraith and The Unforgiving Eye. Newman eventually realizes these comics somehow tie into the murder of the guy who owned them. Also, these comics Newman reads are, in story, created by David Hine and Shaky Kane, who also happen to be the creators of The Bulletproof Coffin.
So yeah, it’s mind bendy stuff, but not in a frustrating “god-dammit, just tell me what’s happening!” kind of way. A new Bulletproof Coffin mini-series is starting this month and the first mini is available in trade.
Elephantmen – This book is essentially about were-elephants and hippos tryin’ to make their way in the world in a futuristic Los Angeles. Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, writer Richard Starkings plays his goofy concept completely straight, which gives the book a very unique feel. Sure, there’s funny stuff, but there are also a lot of moments between these talking hippos and rhinos played for deadly serious drama.
Also, the series’ art has been consistently beautiful, with guys like Moritat, Chris Bachalo and Chris Burnham having worked on the book.
Mudman – Owen Craig is a normal teenage kid who happens to have incredible mud powers! That’s really all there is to this series — no wacky high concept here really, but these days not having a wacky high concept is almost a high concept itself.
This is just basic, well done superhero storytelling by Paul Grist, the super talented guy behind Jack Staff. There have only been two issues so far, so getting on board shouldn’t be an issue for most folks.